FRANK W. COOPER, who is prominently identified with the business interests of Macoupin County, is mine superintendent and proprietor of a large general store at Nilwood. He was born at Nilwood, Macoupin County, Illinois, January 11, 1863, and is a son of Henry Cooper, one of the capitalists of this county.
The Cooper family is of English extraction. James Cooper, the grandfather of Frank W., died in Australia, leaving a widow and five children. The widow later married David Chapple, and died in 1884, in England, aged 84 years. Her second and only surviving son, Henry Cooper father of our subject, was born in England, December 25, 1825, and came to America in the fall of 1849. He had been an employee of the Great Western Railroad Company of England and was a practical railroad man when he landed in New York. His objective point was the West, but Chicago did not offer sufficient inducements to make him desire to make his home there. At Elgin, Illinois, where work was being done on the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, he secured a sub-contract which he finished in the spring of 1851, when he came first to Macoupin County. The Alton road was then in course of construction, and Mr. Cooper took another sub-contract, this being for the grading and finishing of the road from Carlinville to Alton. This also was completed satisfactorily and in 1851 he was made foreman of the construction work from Springfield to Alton. After the completion of the road, he settled where he still resides. In 1852 he entered upon the business of supplying the Chicago & Alton Railway with wood, purchasing first 40 acres of timber land. So successful was he in this enterprise, that he then bought of the city of Alton 640 acres of timber land, a third purchase being one of 400 acres of timber land in the Macoupin Bottoms.
Each business effort of Mr. Cooper was better than the last and thus he felt justified in taking his largest contract, this being the supplying of ties to this railroad, involving the purchase of 2,000 acres of timber land, all contiguous to the Chicago & Alton. Mr. Cooper still resides in the vicinity of Nilwood, owning 1,000 acres of improved land here, including much of the village, 400 acres of which property he has leased to coal operating companies. He is a man of exceptional business ability. In politics he has always supported the Democratic party. Fraternally he is a Mason. In 1852 he married Mrs. Mary (Murphy) Dea, widow of Richard Dea, who was born in Ireland. They reared seven children, our subject being the youngest son.
Frank W. Cooper received his education at Nilwood and in the State University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He began his business career as an employee of the Bell Telephone Company, first at Elkhart, Indiana, then at Kankakee, Illinois, and later at LaSalle, Illinois, after which he returned to Nilwood and engaged in clerking. On October 21, 1888, he became bookkeeper for the Nilwood Carbon Coal Company and in April, 1897, with his brother Charles, purchased the mines, two years later becoming sole operator through lease. On October 1, 1902 he disposed of the mines and became superintendent. Since April 1, 1897, he has engaged in a general mercantile business at Nilwood and is prominently identified with the majority of its enterprises, has been president of the village for four years, on the School Board for nine years and treasurer of Nilwood since 1893.
On October 29, 189, Mr. Cooper was married to S. Chassie Cline, a daughter of J. W. Cline, a retired farmer of Litchfield, Illinois. Fraternally he is a Knight Templar and a Knight of Pythias.